By MAGGIE CLARK
ANNAPOLIS (January 13, 2011) Before the Maryland legislative session was even an hour old, Delegate Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, announced plans to introduce 16 bills cracking down on illegal immigration in the state.
McDonough sees the issue as essential to promote security and economic stability in a state that he says has often acted as "a sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants.
"The General Assembly is basically a sanctuary assembly", McDonough said."It's a body of lawmakers who support lawbreakers. I've introduced 11 bills in the past, and every one of them has passed in other states. So it's not the bill, it's not me, it's the General Assembly and the fact that this is a sanctuary state. By being a sanctuary state (for illegal immigrants), you are hurting the citizens of the state."
McDonough, one of 43 Republicans in the 141-member House, said the immigration issue is not personal, but economic.
"My whole program is about money and jobs. It's not about emotion. It's not about who is a racist. It's not about who doesn't like foreigners; that's all pathetic rhetoric by the left. It is about money and jobs."
McDonough plans to introduce approximately three bills each week this session, including a bill to require employers to use E-Verify, the federal electronic system to verify a person's work eligibility, and an Arizona-style bill to require local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.
These bills are part of a national trend among state legislatures looking to crack down on illegal immigration.
The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill that would deny citizenship to American-born children of illegal immigrants. And Virginia legislators are proposing cutting off access to public higher education for undocumented students.
McDonough also announced his opposition to the Maryland Dream Act, a bill that would give in-state tuition to undocumented students who have graduated from Maryland public schools and been accepted to a Maryland state university. Undocumented students are currently eligible to attend Maryland public universities, but must pay out-of-state tuition.
The bill will be sponsored by Sen. Victor Ramirez, D-Prince George's, and Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, who believe that undocumented students who graduate from Maryland's schools don't deserve to be punished for their parents' illegal entry.
"If you live in our community, graduate from our high schools and defend our nation, you deserve the promise of a more affordable higher education," said Madaleno, in a press release.
"The senator believes it's an issue of fairness," said Adam Fogel, chief of staff for Madaleno. "A young person who came to the country with their parents through no fault of their own, did well in Maryland schools and are admitted to a state university—it's only fair to give them the opportunity to continue their education and become productive members of society."
McDonough argues that if passed, the Maryland Dream Act would put taxpayers on the hook to subsidize in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students. Fogel says that the financial impact of the bill has not been worked out yet, as the bill has not been formally filed.